1. Amazing blue water and white sand beaches, just down the street!
Some of my fondest memories on St. Maarten were at Mullet Bay Beach, like when Irene and I took Meow Meow for a swim, or when Arif, Chris, and I used to go there for a dip after block exams during our first semester. Sometimes when I was studying hard and wanted a break, I’d walk over from campus to sit on the beach and see the sunset over the horizon.
2. Taking a short study break to watch the cruise ships go by.
Perhaps this isn’t something I necessarily miss, but something that made me jealous, especially during pre-block weekends. How I wish I were on one of those boats, care free and not worrying about some upcoming exam!
3. View from Campus.
While the Cupecoy area could use some cleaning up, the school could not have built the campus on a more beautiful location, overlooking the Simpson Bay Lagoon and the mountains and islands beyond. I just hope the new building they’re building won’t block the view.
4. View from my apartment
When I was looking for off-campus apartments during the middle of my first semester, I was deciding between Aventura and Palm Court apartments. At first I was leaning towards Palm Court since it was a lot closer to campus and the beach (2-3 minute walk to campus, vs. Aventura, which was about 6-7 minutes walking). But when the landlord showed me the roof garden of Aventura, I was sold! I ended up living on the fifth floor right by the stairs, and the sixth floor roof top garden was just a few steps away. I’ve had a lot of good memories up here. Whenever Irene visited, we would come up here and have a candle light dinner on the roof, under the stars, on some small island far far away. Unfortunately, our candle would always blow out, but we didn’t care.
5. Studying with friends
At AUC, everyone eventually finds a place where they like to study. Some people have a particular seat they always sit at in the library, and if someone else unknowingly takes that seat, they might get some stares. For Abe, Gundi, a couple of other people and me, it was the cafeteria (“the caf” as we called it). We had a particular table where we set up camp everyday. We wouldn’t necessarily always be studying with each other as a group or even the same subject, but that table was ours, and nobody else but us sat in those seats after hours. The good (and bad) thing about the cafeteria is that people are allowed to talk there, so whenever I wanted to ask a question or pair up to study a certain topic with somebody, I’d be able to do that freely without disturbing the peace (or should I say contribute to the non-existent peace?). And whenever I want to do solo study again, I just tune out, or push my ear plugs back in (yup, back in the days before free Bose headphones). Plus, I could always buy something to munch on while I studied, or get free coffee during pre-block weeks (which they’ve since made free 24/7 since 2012). Although I mainly studied by myself, I find incorporating some group study definitely helps me too, and it feels good to know that we are all in this together.
6. Going out to eat late for a study break.
If we’re studying up til 12am or so and we’re hungry, we would call up Thai Savanh or Sugar Cane Cafe and make a group trip down there to pick up food. Sometimes we’d even venture off to Simpson Bay to go get some yummy shwarmas at Abu Ghazi, which opens through 5am or so. They got a signature sauce for their fries which is absolutely awesome. Just writing about it makes me hungry.
7. Living close to friends.
Here at AUC, almost everyone lives within walking distance from each other and from school, even many of the professors, who you may run into on the streets, at restaurants, or even at the beach. Most of the apartments around AUC are dominated by students. The place I lived, Aventura, is practically an off-campus school dorm, since most everyone there are AUC students. We run into each other so much and walk to school together. Chris and I became neighbors after we moved out of the dorms as roommates, and we would just knock on each other’s doors if we needed anything or just wanted to talk.
Living nearly two years on a foreign island is a long time for a lot of people. To some people, it may not have been their thing, but for others, it is an adventure. Either way, our times there are full of precious memories that we shared with friends. Being away makes me appreciate what we had there.